American-born artist Robert Mangold is most closely associated with the minimalist movement, and he has become an iconic part of that modern aesthetic. Born in 1937, Robert Mangold originally hails from the small town of North Tonawanda in the state of New York. He is the son of Blanche Mangold, who worked as a buyer for a department store, and Aloysius Mangold, a worker in a nearby organ factory.
His parents may not have been artists themselves, but they did nurture their son's love of creativity and his talent for art. Robert Mangold recognized the value of a formal arts education from an early age, and from 1956 to 1959, he trained at the prestigious Cleveland Institute of Art. He later studied at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he earned a BFA in 1961 and an MFA in 1963.
Robert Mangold married Sylvia Plimack in 1961, and together they moved to New York City. Shortly after his marriage, Robert Mangold began to create in earnest, and today his works are among the most highly sought after and the most critically acclaimed of his generation.
Many prominent art critics have noted that the paintings Robert Mangold creates are far more complicated than they first appear. While they may look simple when viewed from a distance, the paintings Robert Mangold creates also invite closer scrutiny. When viewed from close up, their complicated nature and conflicting themes become far more evident, and their rich nature invites an even closer examination.
Despite the introspection they invite, Robert Mangold's works are often comprised of seemingly simple elements. Those simple elements are combined in a series of different ways, creating a complexity that demands further examination. This combination of the simple and the complex is what sets Robert Mangold's work apart, and what makes it so highly valued and collectible.
Robert Mangold uses a variety of elements in his works, but there are a few repeating themes that come up again and again. Architecture is one of Robert Mangold's favorite themes, and many of his works contain architectural elements that bring to mind skyscrapers, street grids and other parts of modern industrial life.
While he sometimes creates standalone works, Robert Mangold is known for his extensive series. In many cases, those series include paintings and works on paper. These combinations allow viewers to see the related works as a whole or look at them individually.
Many of Robert Mangold's earliest works were comprised mostly of freestanding monochromatic constructions. These large constructions were meant to be displayed against a wall, and the Grey Window Wall is one of his most famous works.
By the late 1960s, Robert Mangold had largely abandoned traditional paint in favor of acrylic, and he had given up his paintbrush for a roller. Eventually, Robert Mangold would evolve from the use of Masonite and plywood to traditional canvas.
Throughout his life, Robert Mangold has experimented with a number of different design elements, including overlapping shapes and canvases whose edges create a series of implied lines. Geometric relationships have always been a big part of Robert Mangold's work, and 1975's A Rectangle and a Circle Within a Square is a prime example.
Robert Mangold is also famous for his monochromatic panels, often using trapezoidal pairs of panels. Some of these works employ matching colors, while others use contrasting shades. In these works, the color becomes its own characters, with deep oranges, browns, grays and olive greens bringing life and drama to each panel.
One of Robert Mangold's most seminal works is simply called Column Structure I through Column Structure XII, and it is comprised of 12 separate canvases, each with a 10 foot high vertical trunk in the center. These lines are further subdivided, with horizontal lines, squares and triangles coming in from the sides. The result is a stunning creation, and one of Robert Mangold's most popular works.
In the end, it is this combination of a restrained and seemingly simple surface and a deeper and more meaningful subtext that gives the works of Robert Mangold their enormous power. Art is all about contrast, challenging the viewer to see deeply and think about the world in new and different ways. This challenge is inherent in Robert Mangold's works, and one of the reason the contemporary American artist has enjoyed such enormous success.
1/3 Gray-Green Curved Area, 1966
Oil on Masonite
48 x 83 3/4 inches
Red/Yellow/Blue - Green + Within +, 1982
Acrylic and pencil on paper mounted on board
20 x 20 inches
4 Color Frame Painting #9, 1964
Acrylic and graphite on paper
44 x 31 inches
Circle In and Out of a Polygon 2, 1973
Acrylic and graphite on canvas
72 1/8 x 72 inches